The Boston Red Sox have been an ongoing disaster since their collapse at the end of last season. The nightmare hasn't ended and it seems as if there is a new problem everyday. It all started after a win over the Texas Rangers in early September last season.
On the fourth day of September last season, the Red Sox were only a half game behind the New York Yankees in the AL East and led the Tampa Bay Rays by nine games for the wild card. They had 84 wins at this point, but were only able to win six games the rest of the season.
The final game of the season resulted in a loss to the Baltimore Orioles that left them out of the playoffs.
Not only did the collapse cost the Red Sox a playoff appearance, but it also cost Terry Francona his job.
Reports started coming out that the players didn't put in their full effort. Jon Lester, John Lackey and Josh Beckett were supposedly in a routine of eating fried chicken, drinking beer and playing video games in the clubhouse during games.
This had a negative reflection on Francona and his control of the team. A lack of motivation and leadership were all reportedly linked to their collapse.
Despite Francona's success with the Red Sox, which included two World Series championships, the team declined to exercise his 2012 option. Along with Francona, GM Theo Epstein decided to take a job with the Chicago Cubs.
With the manager's spot empty, the Red Sox needed to find a worthy replacement. While everyone in the organization was not on board with the decision, they went ahead and hired Bobby Valentine.
Valentine was a former player and manager, most notably for the New York Mets. He led the Mets to the World Series in 2000, but retired from Major League Baseball in 2002. Valentine had been managing in Japan and working for ESPN before getting the Red Sox job.
Before the season even started, Valentine started doing what he does best: running his mouth. He took shots at Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, and continued putting a foot in his mouth every time it opened.
The Red Sox also continued their early-season struggles, being swept by the Detroit Tigers in the first three games. However, they swept the Rays in a series in the middle of April and it looked like they were starting to get into a groove.
It felt as if Valentine wanted that hot streak to end by causing a distraction. He publicly questioned Kevin Youkilis' effort and commitment, earning a sharp rebuke by Dustin Pedroia:
"That’s not the way we go about our stuff around here, I’m sure Valentine will figure that out soon."
Valentine would go on to apologize to Youkilis, but they were clearly never able to coexist as Youk would eventually be traded to the Chicago White Sox in June. Valentine ran out a fan favorite and hero in Boston.
The chaos did not end with Youkilis out of the picture; players were reportedly unhappy with Valentine and challenged him. Along with this, the Red Sox have been out of contention for the AL East pretty much all season.
They are currently 13 games behind the Yankees in the AL East and 6.5 games out of a wild-card spot. While the division is most likely out of reach, a run at the wild card is not. There is still a month-and-a-half of baseball, which is plenty of time for them to make a move, especially when you consider that both wild-card teams are in the AL East.
When should the Red Sox fire Valentine?
For Valentine, his job security has been a hot topic of late. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported that players met with Red Sox ownership to discuss getting Valentine fired. Players have denied that they tried to get Valentine canned, but they didn't deny that a meeting took place.
So should Valentine be on the hot seat? My answer is yes.
The Red Sox need to fire Valentine immediately. While he is definitely not to blame entirely for the Red Sox's struggles, he is partially responsible.
It is quite clear that Valentine's managerial style does not gel well with the Red Sox players. You can't clear house of all the players, but what they can do is fire Valentine.
There has to be a reason that Valentine has not managed a team in the major leagues since 2002, not to mention that he has never won anything in the MLB either. It's not as if you are debating whether to fire Casey Stengel or Connie Mack.
Since Valentine took over as manager, he has been nothing but a headache. Firing him could give the team a sense of relief and cause a spark in their play on the field.
We have seen it many times in all sports. Fire the headcase manager, and the team starts playing well. It happened when Jim Tracy took over as manager of the Colorado Rockies in 2009 after Clint Hurdle was fired. It also happened in the NBA last season after Mike Woodson took over as head coach of the New York Knicks.
The Red Sox need this jolt if they are going to possibly save their nightmare of a season and make the playoffs. Valentine needs to be fired as soon as possible.